Written by Megan Rivenburg
Hi everyone! It’s my last Fitness Friday post before leaving for my semester abroad in Sydney, and I realized that I have been overlooking my favorite type of workout with these posts- simply running!
It’s something that I do regularly that helps me clear my mind and work out stress when there’s a lot going on. It’s something that can be done everywhere and with minimal equipment. It’s something that has endless and unexpected health benefits.
I am first going to talk about the health benefits of running, and then want to give a few ways to spice up your running workout.
Running is an activity that burns a lot of calories. If you are someone looking to lose weight, this can be very helpful. If you, like me, are just looking to stay fit and build muscle, it just means you can eat more, and that is always a positive!
Running, despite popular belief, is actually good for your joints and bones. It increases bone mass, which means they get stronger and more difficult to break. It is also found that runners, over time, are less likely to develop arthritis than people who do not run.
Cardiovascular exercises like running are good for heart health and reduce the risk of heart attack and heart disease.
Another benefit of running is that it makes you happy! That’s right- runner’s high is real. It is caused by the endorphins that are released during a run and is proven to make you happier and more confident. What’s not to like?
On top of all of these health benefits, running is good for spiritual health. It gives you time to be with yourself and push yourself, or be with friends and build relationships up stronger. It gives you a chance to connect with nature and the world around you and observe the things you miss on your regular routes that you normally zoom by in a car.
You may think that running seems boring. This could be true if when you run, you stay inside on a treadmill and go the same pace the whole time. However, there are so many ways to shake up this workout and make it different and exciting each time!
I like to make different playlists and listen to a different kind of music each run. Sometimes I feel like listening to fast-paced country songs and that gets me excited to run, and other times I listen to rap and feel fast and strong.
We talked about the benefits of interval training in the Orange Theory and Kayla posts, and that can definitely be incorporated into running. You can make it different each time. Maybe one time you go a whole song at a maintenance pace then spend the next 30 second at an all-out sprint and repeat until the workout is done. Maybe you set landmarks and sprint to every other mailbox. Whatever you do, as long as you’re changing up the pace, you’re getting the benefits of interval training.
One more way to spice up your running workout is to go a different route. Sometimes I find myself stuck in a rut and running the same path, and this makes the run kind of boring. When that happens, I go a new place! On my run this morning, I challenged myself to not retrace my steps at all. It was really fun, because I was working my brain and trying to find a path I’d never gone at the same time as working my body.
Running, in my mind, is underrated. It’s something that has so many unexpected benefits and could be so fun if people just gave it another try. I think that sometimes people tell themselves they don’t like something and never try it again, and get stuck in that mindset. It’s always good to try things again a different way- you may surprise yourself and discover that you actually love it!